Monday, 23 January 2012

Week 20 - running in pyjamas, childcare and Carol Vorderman

I've completely stitched myself up with this running business. When Ben decided to run every morning before work I kicked up a stink saying I was also planning to 'run' regularly. So now we're taking it in turns.

 Every other day I wake up, breast feed for up to an hour, put on the pyjamas I'm not wearing in bed and drag myself round the park. The first day of my fitness regime was ok as there was quite a large woman doing the same thing, so I followed her at a reasonable distance trying to keep up, and pretending I was doing my shoe lace up or having a stretch when she turned around.

Following someone else is definitely the way to do sports (unless you're trying to win obviously), just remember to stop following them when you come out the park or it turns into borderline stalking when you follow them home.

So she wasn't there on day two, or is taking a different route to avoid the weird sweating stalker, and getting the motivation to put one foot in front of the other when the sun hasn't come up properly is quite hard. This is the penance for having a mardy and wanting things my way. I should remember this for the future with Nancy when she starts playing up.

When I get back to the flat I find myself just staring at her, willing her to wake up. Its totally unimaginable to recall life pre her. It’s like when you meet someone when you’re a bit leathered who instantly becomes your best friend and you're giddy excited and start showing off to them and trading old boyfriend stories, and the next time you see them you naturally hug them without either of you thinking the other person is being too full on. And then you just start seeing them loads. Even though you feel like you never had time to go swimming or get your hair cut; you always have time for that person.

Or like an item of clothing you buy and wear everyday and you can't remember what you wore before you bought it because it’s become so integral to your identity. That’s kind of what having Nancy feels like to me.

Other times I look at her and I'm totally petrified that I'm in charge of another human being's life. The weight of the responsibility is so immense that I completely shit myself up. Our decisions have a direct impact on her life; she can't tell us that this is how she wants to grow up. Every day we make all the life decisions for her and have no idea if they're the right ones or not. I can't think about this too much or I become completely paralysed with fear.

On the other hand having a baby sometimes feels like an extension of yourself. How you pick at them like a monkey in a way that would not only be unacceptable but totally gross if it was anyone else. It's brilliant when you catch a massive bogey that she's been breathing in and out  ('there's bogies all over you' is a favourite Top Gun quote once you've caught it.) Or getting wax out their ears. Cradle cap is addictive to pick at especially when they're sleeping, but my all time favourite is when Nancy unfurls her neck to reveal all manner of hair and fluff and curdled milk. It's like a battle won when you get the wet wipe in there. I don't know of any other situation where there would be such a sense of satisfaction. Apart from maybe when you’re stripping wallpaper and get a whole sheet off in one go.

We've started looking at nurseries. Which is awful. I can't imagine anyone else being with Nancy during the day, getting to cuddle her, smell her, and in return getting a big toothless smile. It makes me feel a bit sick. We've looked round a few places, they all seem nice.  The women are lovely, although several of them talk to you in high pitched slow voices, but I guess that comes from hanging out with little people all day. We've also been to see a few childminders. Again they all seem perfectly lovely. One had a ball pool in her house, as well as a glitter ball which made her downstairs utility room look like a cross between Ritzy’s nightclub and Pontins. This is called, I’ve learnt, a sensory room, and the children go nuts for it.

Another one kept chicken’s which really appealed to the Felicity Kendal in me. But I don’t really know what it is I’m looking for. I guess a kind of Mary Poppins who Nancy would love, but not so much that she wouldn’t want to come home at the end of the day. And costs less than 30 quid a time...

That’s the other thing. The cost of childcare. I don't want to sound all poor old me, and I know I'm no Carol Vorderman when it comes to maths, but it just doesn't seem to add up. If you’re wealthy, then you’re fine because you don’t have the financial worries in the first place, and if you are on a very low income, then the government rightly offers assistance. But if you are in the middle, and it’s a very broad middle range, then you’re basically fucked.

It’s like the government don’t want women to go back to work. As of April 2012 any family who has a combined income of more than 26 grand, which must be most of the people I know who are working, will no longer receive child tax credits, and assistance towards childcare. It seems that you end up working for free until your child is three. Some of the women I’ve spoken to said that they actually made a loss at the end of each month, but had to do that otherwise they wouldn’t have career. What kind of a message is this sending out? You either have to have the worst paid job ever to get help, or don’t bother going back to work at all, which you don’t want to do as it’s taken up until having a baby to get your career going in the first place.

On another note, the neighbour’s have now moved the fridge. I was putting out the recycling when a man, who was unloading a van full of wood into one of the flats, said to me, ‘I’m moving it later.’ I said ‘moving what?’ trying to act totally cool. ‘The fridge,’ he replied, ‘someone keeps sticking notes to it.’ I leant over and read the note as if it was the first time I’d seen it. ‘Oh right. Well thanks for letting me know.’  He didn’t suspect a thing. Turns out my theatre degree does come in handy occasionally.

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